When our primitive ancestors began to reflect on the Great Mystery of life, they may have assumed that because humanity is gendered, the gods must be as well. Since Earth was the foundation of existence and had an inexhaustible fruitfulnes, it felt like a Mother. It automatically followed that the heavens, which blessed Earth with the bright light of the sun by day, moonlight by night, and rain to help plants grow, must be a Father. Thus, some of our earliest images of deity were of a Divine Androgyne of integrated masculinity and femininity. A slightly different expression of this idea appears in creation myths in which Earth Mother takes heaven as her partner and together the Divine Couple produces the gods and nurtures life. Thus, the idea that all life results from a sacred marriage of two opposite yet complementary creative forces is as old as humanity itself.
Throughout religious history the feminine force appears always to foster a feeling of solidarity with the exhaustible power of creation of the mothering earth. Thus, most early religions were centered around Goddesses who represented this Sacred Mystery. The Goddess religions tended to generate long periods of peace in human affairs. For example, in Crete, the people appear to have been gentle, joyous, sensuous and peace-loving. Whether the earliest religions featured Earth Mother, the Divine Androgyne, or the Divine Couple, evidence suggests that reverence for the Sacred Feminine dominated religious thought for many thousands of years.
Then about five thousand years ago the solitary Sky Father began to usurp the Great Mother’s authority. As the heavenly Father gained supremacy religious experience gave place to theoretic understanding, or philosophy. Learning to use our brains in more complex and abstract ways was natural and desirable. Unfortunately, wherever Great Mother was repressed, people tended to lose touch with themselves, Nature, each other, and their sense of life’s sacredness dulled.
During the 20th century, we experienced the disastrous consequences of this mindset in two world wars. With our growing awareness that our one-sided devotion to masculine values has the potential to destroy our species came a new commitment to preserving it by empowering our feminine sides. A good way to begin is by examining images and qualities of the Sacred Feminine that represent archetypal (universal) energies in all of us, and to integrate them into our conscious awareness.
This was my intention when I taught a Goddess class at the Jung Center of Winter Park, Florida. To guide our exploration I chose the six major Goddesses of Greek mythology: Hera, Demeter, Artemis, Athena, Persephone and Aphrodite. As you can see from these pictures, it was a rich, fruitful and enlightening experience for all who participated.